Fsther's disappointment at law defeat

By David GreenTHE father of a woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant voiced his disappointment last night after MPs rejected a change in the organ donor law.

By David Green

THE father of a woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant voiced his disappointment last night after MPs rejected a change in the organ donor law.

Richard Spurgin, whose daughter, Kate Trevarthen, died at the age of 27 from cardiomyopathy, criticised the Government opposition to the proposed law change.

If it had been approved, the law would have been changed to allow surgeons to remove organs from the bodies of dead people who, during their lifetime, had not “opted out” from organ donation.


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Supporters of the proposed legislation said it would have dramatically increased the number of body organs becoming available for transplant, but MPs voted 307 to 60 last night against it after Labour MPs had a three-line whip imposed on them.

Mr Spurgin, who lives with his wife, Cathy, in Harleston on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, said people awaiting a donor organ to save or enhance their lives had been given no increased hope by the Government.

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“They say they are going to spend a few million pounds on an advertising campaign to persuade people to sign donor cards, but that is just peanuts,” he said.

“If I were on the transplant list, I would take scant comfort from what the Government said. They were quite complacent and didn't gain any friends over their attitude, especially the decision to impose a three-line whip.”

Mr Spurgin said he was convinced that the cost of the law change in terms of extra spending in the NHS was the “hidden agenda” behind the opposition.

But he was pleased that the issue had been given another airing and vowed that he would not cease in his effort to persuade ministers to change their minds.

Earlier, Health Secretary John Reid, had defended the three-line whip insisting: “This decision over one's body is for the conscience - the conscience of individual citizens in this country.”

Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris had spearheaded the move to amend the Human Tissue Bill to make organ donations automatic if someone had not registered their objections.

But relatives would still have the right to prevent the removal of organs even if the dead person had, during his or her lifetime, failed to opt out.

Dr Harris said the number of transplants fell last year and claimed “presumed consent” would help reverse the decline.

Under the present system more patients in desperate need of a transplant were dying before they could be found a suitable organ.

For the Conservatives, Dr Andrew Murrison said he was against the opt-out measure. “Presumed consent is no consent at all,” he added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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